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Fire damages second floor of Sunset Tavern building

August 11, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ and HEATHER LOWERY
  • The Sunset Tavern & Lounge, across National Pike from the New Delmar Inn west of Hagerstown, caught fire Wednesday afternoon.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

The second floor of the Sunset Tavern & Lounge at 16716 National Pike west of Hagerstown caught fire Wednesday.

The area of the fire sustained heavy fire, smoke and heat damage according to William Garrett, chief of the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co.

The state fire marshal's office estimated damage at $40,000 to the building and $15,000 to the contents.

The fire marshal's office said the fire started in a second-floor living room, but the cause was uncertain. It was reported at about 12:15 p.m.

A tavern employee who would only give his name as Pappy said he was the only person inside the building when the fire started.

Pappy said he went outside and saw the fire, but went back inside to get the money out of the cash register.

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"I felt it was my duty," he said.

Sunset Tavern & Lounge is on National Pike, across from the The New Del-Mar Inn.

Henry Nigh of Hagerstown, owner of The New Del-Mar Inn, said he saw the fire.

"It's lucky they had a fire hydrant to use, and I'm glad there was one. It saved my place before when we had a kitchen fire," Nigh said.

Jonathan Grove, a co-owner of the tavern, said three men working for a paving company were renting a three-bedroom apartment above the tavern.

Brenda Christopher, who lives in an apartment behind The New Del-Mar Inn, said a man living in the apartment that burned works with her husband.

Christopher said she called 911 after a woman in a white SUV pulled over, got out and waved her arms to alert people about the fire.

A woman ran up to the tavern door, yanked it open, yelled that the upstairs was on fire and told him to get out, Pappy said.

He said he has worked there for four or five months and was cleaning inside when the fire started.

Two bartenders from The New Del-Mar Inn -- Mary Morris of Hagerstown and Judy McElroy of Boonsboro -- also saw the fire.

"I was standing here and just saw smoke out the back, then out front, and then out of the side window. It looked really bad," Morris said.

McElroy said she saw Pappy about to run inside.

"I said 'Pappy, get out of there, get back outside,'" she said.

A stretch of National Pike was closed while firefighters worked on the fire.

Besides Maugansville, firefighters from Williamsport, Hagerstown and Halfway were at the scene, along with the air and rehab units and the county's Special Operations unit, the fire marshal's office said.

The temperature was in the mid-90s. Garrett said firefighters worked in short shifts before stopping for a break and drinking water.

About 25 or 30 years ago, Garrett said, Maugansville firefighters rescued a man from a window on the upper floor above the tavern. He also recalled a kitchen fire there about seven or eight years ago.

Grove said he, David McSherry Sr. and David McSherry Jr. have owned the building for about seven years under the name Blarney Stone Enterprise.

The damage won't keep the tavern from continuing to operate, Grove said.


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